99 ways to get more from your CRM software in 2013 – part 4 – ideas 76 – 99

by Richard Boardman on February 9, 2013

How can your B2B CRM system do more for you in 2013? Here’s the fourth (and final!) installment of ideas:

76. Consider the customer journey – analysing how a customer interacts with the range of touch-points in your organization, and looking at how that that experience can be improved, may lead you to develop your CRM system in ways you hadn’t previously considered.

77. Improve system availability – the more your CRM system does for your business the more vulnerable you are to system failures. Reviewing how you can make your systems more resilient, as well as developing detailed contingency plans, can go a long way to reduce the likelihood and impact of outages.

78. Tracking reference customers – arranging reference calls and visits for prospective customers is generally a key part of the sales process, but many companies struggle to develop enough reference accounts to avoid this becoming a time-consuming and frustrating exercise. Using the CRM system to identify current and potential references, help nurture and develop them over time, and ensure they’re not over-used, can help win more customers, reduce the sales cycle and increase productivity.

79. Document management – are useful customer documents easily available through the CRM system? It’s not unusual for important files to sit in filing cabinets or individual hard drives where they can’t easily be accessed. Using the CRM system to manage documents, or provide easy access to them, for example through integration with a document management system, can significantly improve the effectiveness of customer-facing staff.

80. Testing and training environments – if you don’t already have them in place, installing separate testing and training environments can help you test and roll out new capabilities more quickly and easily without disrupting your main production system. Most on-premise software licences allow you to set these up without further charge, and many cloud-based solutions provide ‘sandbox’ environments for this purpose.

81. Manage major bids – major bids can be complex, expensive, and involve extensive collaboration between teams. Using the CRM system to manage, and potentially streamline, the major bid process, can help businesses avoid the cost of bidding on unwinnable opportunities, improve productivity, and increase win rates.

82. Extend CRM’s horizons – are there other areas of the business not using CRM? Other offices, teams, functions, locations, subsidiaries, international operations? Extending CRM beyond its existing boundaries can be a very effective way to spread best practices across the breadth of the organization.

83. Improve opportunity management – does your sales opportunity tracking help or hinder the salesperson? Ideally it should help the salesperson gather the information they need to know about an opportunity and for sales management to validate it. Tuning this area so it better supports you sales processes can have a big effect on lead conversion.

84. Monitor a day in the life of – if you’re managing a CRM system how well do you understand your users? Spending time with them to see what their job entails, and how well the system currently supports them, can help identify new opportunities to increase their productivity and effectiveness.

85. Are your customers getting looked after? – are your customers receiving the attention they deserve? Do they have a designated account manager, and are they making regular contact? It’s not unusual for a customer to be orphaned because of a change of personnel or sales territory or for a salesperson’s attention to wander. Developing the reporting and processes to identify these customers early can have a big impact on retention and life-time value.

86. Configuration management – many companies sell complex solutions which need to be configured for the needs of each customer, and it can be easy to make errors, particularly for inexperienced staff. Using configuration management add-ons within your CRM system can reduce the overhead on internal resources, such as pre-sales, and reduce the number, cost, and impact of configuration errors.

87. Outsource administration – as we’ve touched on in previous points, the CRM administrative function is key to ongoing success, but training up an in-house administrator may not be a practical option for all organisations, so consider outsourcing this function externally if necessary.

88. Lead scoring – scoring the leads you receive, whether it’s done through marketing automation or manually as part of your lead management process, helps focus resources on the most promising opportunities and can help improve lead conversion rates.

89. Develop a long term plan – a lot of CRM systems come to a grinding halt after the initial implementation because there’s no plan for the future. Defining a long term vision, backed by appropriate budgets and resources, is key to realizing CRM technology’s potential.

90. Extend your reach within your customers – many businesses have very limited reach within their customers. A salesperson, for example, may be in (often occasional) touch with one or a handful of customer contacts. These limited channels often constrain the ability to develop a customer and make you vulnerable if a key connection leaves. Using the CRM system to support a fuller and broader picture of your customer contacts, and implementing an appropriate communications plan, can have a profound impact on your ability to cross-sell, up-sell, and retain your customers.

91. Contract management – using the system to manage the contracts that you have, both with your customers and other parties such as suppliers, can help increase their visibility to the staff who need to be aware of them, and help you manage key milestones such as renewal and end dates.

92. Managing acquisitions – using the CRM system to support new acquisitions can have a big impact on the success of these mergers. If there are acquisitions in the offing, and if the plan is for them to use the central system, ensuring you have the means and resources to add their users, processes, and data quickly can help you assimilate acquisitions faster and more successfully.

93. Improve forecasting accuracy – visibility of future business volumes is key to a company’s ability to plan and allocate its resources effectively, but forecast accuracy is something many companies struggle with. Reviewing and refining your approach to opportunity management with your CRM system can have a big impact on the reliability of sales forecasts.

94. Look for gaps – what isn’t in your CRM system is sometimes as important as what is. Are their prospects, influencers, or even customers, that aren’t in the CRM system, but should be? Looking for gaps in coverage can be a great way to find new opportunities.

95. Manage quote approval – do you know what quotes and proposals are being sent out? Are they priced correctly, accurate, reflect company branding, and contain up to date marketing collateral? Developing quote approval processes supported by the CRM system, can be an easy way to monitor and improve quality and increase conversion rates.

96. Web site integration – you may capture a range of interactions through your web site including leads, questions, complaints, and support issues,  but are these forms integrated the CRM system? Better integration with the web site has the potential to reduce the double entry of data and increase customer service.

97. Following up lapsed customers – lapsed customers may not be buying from you now, but some at least will buy from you again. Developing a set of processes – supported by the CRM system – to efficiently maintain a relationship can have a big impact on the number that buy again.

98. Onboarding – the customer experience when they first buy from you will often set the tone for the whole relationship that follows. Taking the time to ensure that new customers are happy with your products and services can have a huge impact on the life time value of that relationship. Using the CRM system to support these ‘on-boarding’ processes can be a very effective way to increase customer satisfaction.

99. Get a fresh perspective – okay, ninety-nine points in, this one’s a little self-serving, but if you’re not sure of the best way to take things forward consider getting some outside advice. There are a number of independent CRM consultancies around, including our own, who can use their experience to help you unlock the potential of your CRM technology.

Anyway, that concludes the ninety nine ways to get more from your CRM system in 2013 series. Previous tranches can be found here:  1 – 25, 26 – 50, 51 – 75.

I will probably combine all ninety nine points into a single e-book which I will put on the site. If anyone wants an advance copy drop me a line via the blog, or the Mareeba contact page. Please feel very free to comment if you feel I’ve missed anything.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

David February 12, 2013 at 11:59 am

Richard

Thanks for taking the time to write this and then share it – pretty damm fabulous if you ask me!

Cheers

David

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